Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Coffee, tea and caffeine intake and the risk of severe depression in middle-aged Finnish men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study

Anu Ruusunena1 c1, Soili M Lehtoa2a3, Tommi Tolmunena2, Jaakko Mursua1, George A Kaplana4 and Sari Voutilainena1

a1 Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Kuopio Campus, University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland

a2 Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital and University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

a3 Kuopio Psychiatric Center, Kuopio City and Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

a4 Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, The University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


Objective Only a few cross-sectional studies have assessed the association between coffee, tea and caffeine and the risk of depression. Our aim was to determine the association in a population-based cohort study.

Design The population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study cohort was recruited between 1984 and 1989 and followed until the end of 2006. We investigated the association between the intake of coffee, tea and caffeine and depression.

Setting Eastern Finland.

Subjects Middle-aged men (n 2232).

Results Altogether, forty-nine men received a discharge diagnosis of depression. We classified subjects into quartiles according to their mean daily coffee intake: non-drinkers (n 82), light drinkers (<375 ml/d, n 517), moderate drinkers (375–813 ml/d, n 1243) and heavy drinkers (>813 ml/d, n 390). Heavy drinkers had a decreased risk (RR = 0·28, 95 % CI 0·08, 0·98) for depression when compared with non-drinkers, after adjustment for age and examination years. Further adjustment for socio-economic status, alcohol consumption, smoking, maximal oxygen uptake, BMI and the energy-adjusted daily intakes of folate and PUFA did not attenuate this association (relative risk (RR) = 0·23, 95 % CI 0·06, 0·83). No associations were observed between depression and intake of tea (drinkers v. non-drinkers; RR = 1·19, 95 % CI 0·54, 2·23) or caffeine (highest quartile v. lowest quartile; RR = 0·99, 95 % CI 0·40, 2·45).

Conclusions Coffee consumption may decrease the risk of depression, whereas no association was found for tea and caffeine intake.

(Received March 27 2009)

(Accepted February 10 2010)

(Online publication April 01 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email